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Showing posts from March, 2018

"Model" Gujarat worst paymaster to rural workers: Has highest gap between NREGA wage and minimum wage rate

By Rajiv Shah
Figures culled by the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Sangharsh Morcha, India’s top civil rights group fighting for strict implementation of India’s premier rural guarantee scheme, floated by the UPA government in 2005, have revealed that Gujarat is the worst pay master, highest highest gap among 20 major Indian states between officially declared minimum wages and NREGA wages.
As against the officially stipulated minimum wages in Gujarat, Rs 298, NREGA workers in the state are paid, on an average, Rs 192 per day, suggesting that the difference between what they should be paid and what they are actually paid is a whopping Rs 106 for a day’s work, which is the highest in the country.
While there are two major states – Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu – where the MREGA workers are paid “more” than their minimum wages, all other Indian states end up paying up less-than-minimum wages under the rural guarantee scheme.
The scheme -- acclaimed by the World Bank in 2013 as…

84 fatal accidents, 114 deaths in three years in textile units in Surat, Gujarat: Study supported by German inst

By Rajiv Shah
While a lot is known about fatal accidents caused in Gujarat’s premier shipbreaking yard at Alang because of lack of occupational safety, a yet-to-be-published study “Labour Conditions in Surat Textile Industry", supported by Bonn-based Südwind Institute for Economics and Ecumenism, is all set to create a flutter. It has estimated that, in the last three years, 84 fatal accidents have been reported in registered textile processing units in Surat, in which 114 workers died.
Based on a Right to Information (RTI) replies to a query filed in 2016, the data supplied by the Directorate Industrial Safety and Health, Gujarat, further suggest that as many as 375 workers were seriously injured in accidents in these units.
Authored by Jagdish Patel of the People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), a Vadodara-based advocacy group focused on occupational health, the study says these data do no provide a complete picture as “a large number of units are not registered.”
A scan thr…

India behind Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka in "access" to clean water, says WaterAid, a Modi govt supporter

By Rajiv Shah
Data released by the London-based WaterAid, a high-profile international non-profit organization, which "supports" the Narendra Modi government's programmes like Swachh Bharat Mission and National Rural Drinking Water Programme, show that India is behind all its neighbours, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, in providing “basic access” to clean water.
Its new report, released on the occasion of World Water Day, which falls on Thursday, the report says that, as against India’s 87.5%, who have the basic access to water, Pakistan’s 88.5%, Nepal’s 87.7%, Sri Lanka’s 92.3%, China’s 95.8%, Bangladesh’s 97.3 and Bhutan’s 97.5% have such an access.
Ironically, despite such poor showing, the WaterAid report, titled “The water gap – The State of the World’s Water 2018”, seeks to present a rosy picture of India’s water situation, saying, “India in particular has made water access a major focus”. It adds, India (along with China) has shown “most striking results”, by reac…

Did Najma Heptulla morph photograph where she "sits" next to MaulanaAzad? Delhi High Court seeks probe

By Rajiv Shah
In an unprecedented move, the Delhi High Court on March 16, 2018 (Court 10, Item 22, PIL 7003 of 2014), has asked the CBI for relevant records of the steps taken to investigate into the photo morphing of India's first education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, allegedly by Manipur governor Najma Heptulla, in a coffee table book, “Journey of A Legend: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: 1888-1958”, authored by her.
Bringing this to light, in an email alert to Counterview, the petitioner in the case, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, has said, Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the CBI counsel to produce relevant records for court's perusal to show prima facie what steps were taken to inquire into the photo morphing case as he was not convinced by the “Self-Contained Note” to give a clean chit to Heptulla.
The court was hearing the plea by Ahmed, grandnephew of Maulana Azad, seeking inquiry into the "morphing" of a photo of Maulana Azad and Najma Heptulla’s alleged role in it. Ahmed move…

Dalit scholar wants political reservations abolished, says: India's Constitution helped perpetuate caste system

By Rajiv Shah
Well-known Dalit rights expert Anand Teltumbde is all set to trigger hornet's nest by insisting on the need to "revamp" the reservation policy for scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs), and other backward classes (OBCs), allegedly meant to "empower" the underprivileged sections in India. Teltumbde wants reservation to be "delinked from castes", saying, this should be done by "creating a separate schedule."
While it is not clear how does he seek to arrive at a "separate schedule", which, he says, should have "definitive metrics to be phased out within a definite time frame", he insists, reservations should be "revamped to be family based", and "families within the schedule, defined as a unit of married couple with their children, would get preference over those who already got reservation."
Pointing out that this would "dampen the public struggle that exists for reservations and…

Right to Education Act "isn't inclusive", it segregates Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim children, is undermining govt schools

By Rajiv Shah
Taking strong objection to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, a new book, seeking to provide a future vision of different social sectors, carries a strongly-worded paper which says that the much-celebrated law has not only failed to provide universal access to free education. Worse, it argues, within five years of its implementation, the legislation is being effectively used to "weaken the public education system further."
Running into 683 pages, the book, "Alternative Futures: India Unshackled", has been edited by two well-known environmental experts working on development, environment interface, biodiversity policy and alternatives, Ashish Kothari and KJ Joy, and carries 35 articles by top experts in their field.
The one on education, "Future Learning in Indian Schools", by Rajesh Khindri and Tultul Biswas, both of whom have worked on pedagogic issues at several places, including the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme, Madhya Pradesh, dis…

India ushackled? Alternative agenda for future: Community living, "control" over resources

By Rajiv Shah
In an unusual move, in 2013, tribal residents of Mendha Lekha, a tribal village in Gandchiroli district of Maharashtra, decided to transfer the ownership of their farmlands, about 200 hectares, to the Gram Sabha. This, according to Pallav Das, one of the authors of an article published in the recently-published 683-page book “Alternative Futures: India Unshackled” (edited by Ashish Kothari and KJ Joy), happened because villagers considered “land as a community resource and not as individual property.”
Calling it a “revolutionary concept of the ‘commons’ (air, water, forests…)”, Das says, the villagers, belonging to the Adivasi Gond community, have not stopped there. They have, in fact, gone a step further by organizing “cultivable land into collective ownership”. He adds, “This ensures that the land stays in the ownership of the village and individual owners are not tempted to sell land to land sharks operating in the adivasis region.” Community leader Devaji Tofa is quote…

Narmada water scarcity in Gujarat to be "permanent feature", Madhya Pradesh has "no water" to spare for SAUNI

By Rajiv Shah
Top sources in the Gujarat government have confided to Counterview that scarcity of water flowing from Narmada dam is going to be a "permanent feature". Pointing out that this has been "internally agreed upon" at the highest level, a senior official, refusing to be named, said, if till recently Gujarat was at ease, and was using Narmada waters "indiscriminately", as there were no dams in Madhya Pradesh, "things have changed."
In all, said this official, the Narmada Valley development entailed construction of 30 large and 135 medium-sized dams in Madhya Pradesh. Its Indira Sagar dam, which has the live capacity of 7.9 Million Acre Feet (MAF), as against Gujarat's Sardar Sarovar dam's 4.75 MAF, is the largest reservoir in India, followed by Nagarjuna Sagar between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Commissioned in May 2005, regulated releases from this project is supposed to provide 8.12 MAF of water to the Sardar Sarovar dam. As pe…